Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mindy Kaling Is Over the Women-in-Television 'Pageant'

New, 1 comment

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Mindy Kaling briefed the audience on her hot pink outfit immediately upon taking the stage at her SXSW conversation with Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider yesterday: "I dressed for the Austin I thought it would be," she said, acknowledging the unfortunately low temperature. "This is Antarctica. I look crazy. I look like my plane got stopped in Miami."

Kaling exudes comfort-in-her-own-skin and looks terrific in bright colors, so she quickly settled into conversation with the apparel update out of the way. Fulenwider opened the discussion by pulling out a quote where Mindy said she can assemble a tweet in 45 seconds, and made her do it on the spot—it took 17 seconds for Mindy to compose this (bonus points for the hashtag). The conversation covered Kaling's career and her experience in the world of media from the perspective of a young woman of color—questions she's answered again and again, which yielded some very honest frustration and fatigue on her part. After the jump, some of the most brilliant, genuine gems from the conversation.

Building the role of Mindy Lahiri: Because Tina Fey's Liz Lemon so perfectly captured the career that Mindy Kaling actually lives and breathes, she didn't want to mimic that for her show. It was important that her character have a job that echoed her own work life—long hours, hard work, and success—but in a different venue. She also noted that she had to "give Mindy Lahiri a career where she was successful and helped people" in order for the audience to take her seriously. "Your character can't say 'I hate recycling' and be an assistant editor at Vogue because she'd be a horrible person." Fulenwider paused and replied, "No comment."

Mindy Lahiri's suspiciously hot boyfriends: "I hire men to make out with me. It's prostitution."

Being constantly compared to all other women in television: It was evident that Kaling is weighed down from being measured against Poehler/Fey/Dunham, or any female who happens to write, produce, and act. "They want to put you in a pageant you never wanted to be in. No one ever says 'Is Seth Rogan too Steve Carell-y?'"

Attaining role model status: She's constantly being asked to speak at engagements that discuss the novel prospect of women working, or women of color working (another topic she's been asked to death). "I have to leave my job to go talk about how it's important for women to work." When it comes to being patted on the back for the "important strides" she's making for women/women of color (depending on who's patting), Kaling notes that it's weird to be looked at like a political figure when all she's trying to do is write a funny TV show—and happens to be an Indian-American female. "I can't stop to think about my 'legacy' because it's a distraction."
· Mindy Kaling Hilariously Defends Her Elle Cover [Racked]